SPEECH GIVEN BY COMANDER IN CHIEF AT THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT.
Mr. Fernando Collor de Mello, President of Brazil;
Mr. Boutros Ghali, Secretary General of the United Nations;
An important biological species is endangered due to the accelerated and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: man.
We are becoming aware of this problem only now when it is almost too late to tackle it.
It is worthwhile indicating that the main responsibility for the brutal destruction of the environment lies with the consumer societies. They are the offspring of the old colonial metropolises and of imperialist policies that also begot the poverty and backwardness which are today the scourge of the overwhelming majority of humanity.
These societies, with only 20 percent of the world population, consume two thirds of the metals and three fourth of the energy produced in the world. They have poisoned oceans and rivers and contaminated the air; they have weakened and opened holes in the ozone layer and saturated the atmosphere with gases that impair climate conditions with catastrophic effects that we are starting to feel.
Forests are disappearing and deserts
growing while billions of tons of fertile soil end up in the oceans every year.
Numerous species face extinction. Overpopulation and poverty lead to desperate
efforts for survival, even at the expense of Nature. The
The solution cannot be to put off the
development of those who need it most. The truth is that everything that today
contributes to underdevelopment and poverty is tantamount to a flagrant attack
on the ecology. As a result, tens of millions of men, women and children perish
every year in the
The unequal terms of trade, protectionism and the foreign debt are also an assault on the ecology and facilitate the destruction of the environment.
A better distribution of wealth and of the technologies available in the world could spare humanity such devastation. Less luxury and waste in a few countries could bring about a reduction of poverty and hunger in a large part of the planet.
Letís put an end to the transfer of
lifestyles and consumer habits to the
Now that the alleged threat of communism
no longer exists, neither the pretexts for cold wars, the
arms race nor military expenditures, what prevents the immediate use of
those resources to foster development in the
††††††††††† Let selfishness and hegemonism cease, as well as callousness, recklessness and deceit. Tomorrow it will be too late to do what should have been done a long time ago.